Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×

Comment Re:It's a ridiculous JOKE (Score 1) 90

All the problems of deep space travel? I wasn't aware the hyperloop would also contain a particle accelerator that generated powerful cosmic rays, that you'd have to stock it with months of food, that passengers would suffer bone density loss due to lack of gravity, or that highly explosive chemicals would be loaded on board. I'm glad I know that now so that I can stay away from it.

Comment Re:As a C programmer (Score 1) 246

The people producing Python or C++ libraries abandon those libraries when they move to a new language - they don't have a choice.

That's certainly true of Python. Hell, you practically need to abandon your Python libraries when you move to the next version of Python.

But it's not true of C++. Binding well-written C++ libraries to other languages sometimes takes a little work (you do need to write a glue layer if there's a serious impedance mismatch, but then you need to do that with C too), but it does work and largely works quite well. Python, Java, Rust, Go, Haskell, O'Caml... you name it, you can The only languages which don't work well with C++ libraries are old languages like Tcl.

Look at LLVM as an instructive example. It's a large complex beast written in heavy C++, but there are bindings for every language you'd ever want to seriously write a compiler in.

Comment Re:Wait... Who got that other half of the $$$ rais (Score 4, Informative) 29

I spent about fifteen years of my career in the non-profit sector, so I have some perspective on this.

Raising money in a non-profit is just like selling stuff is for a for-profit. Generating gross revenue is relatively easy -- if you spend a lot of money you can rake in a lot of dough. What's a bitch to generate is net profit. In the non-profit sector we don't use the term "profitability" very much, so the metric that's often used to describe financial is "cost to raise a dollar." For typical fundraising activities cost-to-raise-a-dollar runs from 0.25 to 1.5 dollars/dollar.

Take junk mail. The cost to raise a dollar for a well-run direct mail campaign is in the range of $1.25 to $1.50, so if I want to raise $115,000 to spend on other things I have to scale my direct mail campaign to bring inover $258,000 gross. As you can see I chose a net target that was exactly 1/1000 the size of the ALS bucket challenge net, so you can compare the efficiency of the processes readily. The cost to raise a dollar for the ALS bucket challenge is actually better than a well-run direct mail campaign -- $0.91.

And it should be more efficient than direct mail, because direct mail is about the least efficient method there is. The marginal costs are huge because you pay for the names and addresses as well as printing and mailing of each piece, and most of those pieces will end up in the landfill unopened. So if direct mail is so inefficient, why use it? Because the financial inefficiency doesn't matter to the organization doing the fundraising. The end result of my hypothetical direct mail campaign is that my organization has $115,000 it didn't have before. That probably pays for one and half full time staff positions (at the low do-gooder wages we pay) for a year.

So the ALS challenge was in the financial efficiency range of methods normally used by non-profits, albeit a little towards the inefficient end. That doesn't really tell us if the campaign was responsibly run or not; to know that you'd have to look at all the expenses and compare those to costs in other viral Internet fundraising campaigns. But the bottom line is that the ALS association ended up with $115 million it didn't have before.

Can you think of a way of raising $115 million in a few months? I thought not. So presuming the guys who ran the campaign didn't spend the money on hookers and blow, I wouldn't be unduly concerned by a cost-to-raise-a-dollar of $0.91 if I was on the board.

Should donors care that the ALS challenge was a little high on the cost-to-raise-a-dollar metric? Well, I look at it this way. People did it because it was fun and for a good cause, and two years later we can point to concrete and significant scientific results from the money raised. That's not only pretty good, it's pretty damned awesome.

Comment Re: As a C programmer (Score 1) 246

I see you do not understand what a mobile app is. There is no real logic in the app, it's just UI for a web service.

That's true in many cases, but it's far from the whole story. Well-written mobile apps try to minimise network communication because that can drain battery life much faster than a modest amount of computation.

Even badly-written mobile apps, like the Facebook client, do DSP on the device for things like its spyware voice recognition feature.

Comment Re:As a C programmer (Score 1) 246

(ok, C++ does too but C is where you get all the amazing well written, optimized libraries you'd want on most devices).

You have clearly never had to support on very many third-party C libraries. The standard open source ones that have been around for decades (e.g. zlib, Berkeley DB) are indeed well-written and high-quality, but they are not the common case.

Comment Re:As a C programmer (Score 1) 246

I recall from my C class that the language only has 34 keywords and that one of its advantages is that it doesn't come with unnecessary baggage.

What that typically means in practice is that for anything beyond a certain scale, you need to write the unnecessary baggage yourself. And believe me, you will.

As an embedded engineer, I appreciate this and also have never had to use a string package, or library, in my professional career.

Some embedded devices do have complex UIs which might find it useful. I've never written the firmware for a modern digital TV or DVR might need to do some of that. But yes, most firmware (and I have worked on some) doesn't need to manipulate strings.

Comment Re:This is NOT a matter of trademark violation (Score 2) 223

Not necessarily. Take a look at the relevant portion of the Lantham Act. It would have to fit one of the provisions therein. It might make a false suggestion of affiliation, but it's arguable.

15 U.S.C. 1125 - False designations of origin, false descriptions, and dilution forbidden

(a) Civil action

(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which

(A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or

(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person's goods, services, or commercial activities,

shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

Comment Re:74 at time of crash (Score 1) 577

I have to amend, I didn't understand you were saying 365 HP isn't enough to push a SUV to 140. That seems reasonable to me, but I've never tried, so I have no idea.

The actual car in question was not a SUV, or anything exotic. Typical 90s state trooper car. I don't remember make or model, if I ever bothered to take note of it at the time.

Comment Re:anti-science environmentalists (Score 1) 173

Actually, it's thoroughly impossible to tell how the new standards work based upon by the linked articles, but it sounds like in plain language that Florida is using a computer model that could allow more flexibility in discharge permitting. This can lead to better results, whether your definition of better is "more rationally defensible" or "more in line with what my donors want." Determining which way it is better requires review by a competent expert. It might be both.

The real issue here is this phrase from TFA: "one of a kind." That's not so good.

It's important in managing environmental data to do things in the usual way. This is contrary to the way public thinks about new technologies. If there's a new iPhone, you expect it to be better in every way or at least as good. It's not like that with scientific methods; new techniques are proposed because they have certain advantages, obviously. But they always have one big disadvantage: their results are hard to compare with what you already know. You need to do a lot of work to justify doing things a new way, otherwise you can find yourself unable to compare what is happening now to what was happening before.

Fortunately Florida can't do this on its own; it has to get EPA approval. Since this is an administration that is generally favorable to environmental regulation, if they can get this past Obama's EPA that will help give these new methods more credibility.

Comment Re:74 at time of crash (Score 1) 577

I seriously believe it would. I've been in a stock Ford Escort (110hp or so, I think) over 120 mph. Handling (not that there was much, point straight and keep going) was fine. I don't have any trouble believing 365 HP would get you to 140.

Anyway, I'm just relating what I was told by the trooper. I've never driven a state trooper car (whatever make/model they are) around the parking lot, let alone at speed.

Comment Re:Autos cause 1.2 million deaths worldwide each y (Score 1) 577

Of course they do. But prospectively, we have the opportunity to be objective. I get to sit here today and look at my family and think "Which future do I prefer? One where they have a lower chance of dying, but if they do it might be at the hands of a faceless algorithm, or one where they have a higher chance of dying, but I'll have someone to blame."

No contest. I suppose there might be someone out there who would rather a greater chance as long as they can blame someone, but I'm going to claim that's a really irrational position to hold.

Slashdot Top Deals

What hath Bob wrought?